The Independent Assessment process

Once a donor has been deemed medically and clinically suitable to donate by their medical practitioner the donor will be required to attend an independent assessment. An independent assessment is an interview which is carried out by an Independent Assessor (IA) who is trained and accredited by the HTA. The IA interviews the donor and recipient both separately and together on behalf of the HTA and is independent of the healthcare teams who are involved with the medical process. 

The Living Donor Coordinator (LDC) will organise the interview at a time that is suitable to the donor, recipient and the Independent Assessor (IA). The LDC will also organise a translator or any other special requirements if they are needed.

The purpose of the interview is to ensure that donors are not forced to do something against their wishes, that no reward has been sought or offered and that the donor has the capacity to make an informed decision.

Depending on complexity, most interviews range in time from 30 minutes to one hour. The donor and recipient will be asked by the LDC to bring proof of their identity and proof of their relationship to the interview. 

It is a criminal offence to carry out a transplant operation between two living people if the conditions of the HT Act are not met. This means valid consent must have been given. It is also an offence to be involved in the buying or selling of human organs. The penalty for these offences is a prison sentence of up to three years, a fine, or both. All donors are asked to provide a signed declaration confirming there is no reward associated with the organ donation and transplantation.

After the interview, the IA has ten working days to submit a report of the interview to the HTA. The HTA has to make a decision on all cases that are referred to it by the transplant unit. Some cases are assessed by a member of HTA staff, while other cases are assessed by a panel of three HTA Board members. The HTA aims to assess all non-panel cases within five working days and all panel cases within ten working days of being referred. The timeline starts from the point at which the HTA has all the information it needs to assess the case. Once the decision is made by the HTA, the LDC and the medical practitioner with the responsibility for the donor will be informed. The LDC will communicate the decision to the donor and recipient on the HTA’s behalf.

Our assessment process

We recommend that you read the guidance for living organ donors on our assessment process below alongside the other information provided by your transplant unit. This will help to inform you about what is involved for both the living donor and the organ recipient.